Cupertino, California – At this time of year, our smartphones always become a reminder to be ready for change.
That’s because Apple and Google are announcing operating system updates that power our iPhones and Android phones. Soon, devices that tick software will have design tweaks and new features – in other words, new things to learn.
On Monday, Apple unveiled the next version of its iPhone operating system, iOS 16. It will include new features like redesigned lock screen and the ability to edit text messages. Last month, Google introduced Android 13, a streamlined wallet application for storing important documents such as credit cards and vaccine records. Both companies also said that they are improving their apps for sending text messages.
The new iPhone and Android operating system will come to our phone as a free update this fall.
Apple and Google frequently accompanied these software updates with high Flutin language and promises. “Today we’re going to take our platform further than ever before,” said Timothy, Apple’s chief executive. Cook said in a pre-recorded video for the event announcing the new software.
But in reality, many of the changes – especially the ability to edit text in a functional way backwards – are additional improvements that look like they should have been made a long time ago. Here are the most notable updates to see.
Apple iPhone is overhauling the lock screen
Apple says it is changing the first thing it sees when using the iPhone: the lock screen.
In the past, people could only change the wallpaper on their lock screen. But with iOS 16, iPhone users can customize the lock screen for the watch by choosing from a variety of fonts and colors. People will also be able to pin “widgets”, which are essentially shortcuts to apps like the phone’s calendar and fitness data tracker, on the lock screen.
This customization can help us tailor our phones to our lifestyle. Note that the new software will allow the iPhone user to create a number of custom lock screens for different views.
For example, a dedicated lock screen for work can show the wallpaper of your office building and include a calendar widget with your next meeting appointment. The lock screen for personal time can show your dog’s wallpaper and exercise widget. The idea is that people will be able to switch between lock screens to better accommodate their needs throughout the day.
Google’s Wallet app catches up to Apple Play
The epidemic accelerated the use of mobile purchases as many people turned to contactless digital payments to avoid touching cash. Apple has had a strong offer for electronic payments for iPhones with its wallet software for over five years, allowing people to purchase credit cards and carry important documents such as boarding passes and health data.
Google, which is struggling to market its mobile payment technology, jumped at the chance to focus more on payments with Android 13 last month. Over the years, its Google Pay system has lagged far behind Apple’s payment system as few Android users have figured out how to use the technology.
Last month, Google renamed its digital payments application Google Wallet. The company has simplified the technology by embedding shortcuts in the wallet in the Android lock screen. It also plans to expand the software beyond credit cards to include documents such as boarding passes, movie tickets and Covid-19 vaccination proof.
Google and Apple are expanding their messaging apps
Anyone who has sent text messages over the phone is familiar with the digital divide between the so-called green bubble and the blue bubble.
When a text message is sent from an Android phone, it appears as a green bubble on the recipient’s screen, with pictures and videos often pixel and distorted. This is because a green bubble message is sent through the phone carrier’s network, which automatically degrades the image quality.
In contrast, blue bubble messages sent between iPhone users go through Apple’s proprietary messaging service iMessage, which maintains a high-quality look for photos and videos.
With Android 13, Google is trying to create its own blue bubble experience. The company is building a technology in its messaging app called Rich Communication Services, which can send high-resolution images and large files. It will allow people to create group conversations just like most modern messaging apps.
Apple, meanwhile, is making changes to iMessage so that iPhone users can edit or remember messages after they have been sent. Retroactive message editing, which saves us from the embarrassment of weird self-correcting text or the embarrassment of accidental pocket text, is a feature that people have been wanting for years.
Both companies are increasing user privacy
These days, no software update will be complete without a Big Tech company announcing that it cares about our privacy. That’s because tech companies want users to feel secure in sharing personal data, especially since European regulators and others have cracked down on them.
So naturally, Apple and Google said they are offering more security to user data in their upcoming operating systems.
Apple, which has long allowed iPhone users to give family members and romantic partners permanent access to their location data, said it would provide deeper controls for such data sharing if an intimate relationship deteriorates. Its new software feature will allow security checks, people to quickly review and revoke access to such data so they can protect their information from abusers.
Google said it would give users more control over what data is shared with third-party applications. In the next version of Android, people will also be able to give apps access to certain photos instead of their entire camera roll – a measure of protection against malicious apps that disguise themselves as photo-editing software.
If many of these tweaks seem long overdue, it’s because they are. As smartphone hardware upgrades have grown, so has software – but incredibly well.